MEXICO CITY (AP) — The death toll from the remnants of Hurricane Earl rose to 39 in Mexico on Sunday as a new tropical storm formed off the country’s Pacific Coast.
At least 28 people died in multiple mudslides in the mountainous north of Puebla state, National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente said in an interview with ForoTV. He said 25 of the dead were in various parts of the township of Huauchinango and three were in Tlaola.
Rains also set off mudslides in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz that killed 11 people, officials reported late Sunday. Gov. Javier Duarte said earlier that landslides hit the towns of Coscomatepec, Tequila and Huayacocotla.
Heavy rain continued in the area, leading officials to close a section of the main federal highway connecting Mexico City to the region. Crews spent the day clearing a number of landslides from the road, but authorities said mud was continuing to slide with the new rain.
Federal transportation authorities said the area had received a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours.
Earlier, Gabriel Alvarado, mayor of the township of Huauchinango, said in a statement that intense rains caused damage affecting at least 200 people. At the time, he confirmed eight deaths, but predicted the toll would rise.
“It is a tragedy what has happened to our people in Huauchinango,” he said.
Tropical Storm Javier formed off Mexico’s Pacific Coast on Sunday, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted it would strengthen into a hurricane by late Monday.
Javier had sustained winds of about 50 mph (85 kph) and was centered about 210 miles (340 kilometers) southeast of Cabo San Lucas late Sunday. It was moving west-northwest at about 13 mph (20 kph).
The storm stayed offshore from Mexico’s southwestern coast, and forecasters said Javier would approach the resort-dotted southern portion of the Baja California Peninsula by early Tuesday.
Heavy rains of between 4 and 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) were expected, along with high winds. A hurricane warning was in effect for the southern portion of the Baja California from Cabo San Lucas to Todo Santos.
Earl was briefly a Category 1 hurricane before hitting the Central American nation of Belize and then Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, dumping rain and triggering landslides. It regained strength after passing over the Gulf of Mexico before making a second landfall on Veracruz’s coast late Friday.